There Could Be a Huge Hole in Your Return to the Workplace Strategy

August 10, 2021
August 10, 2021 Jamie Notter

A lot of leaders spent the last few months putting in a place a plan to reopen the office (in one form or another) after Labor Day. This pesky Delta variant now has a lot of people second-guessing or changing their strategy, but in the end that might be a bit of a blessing in disguise, because it’s quite possible that your return to the workplace strategy was doomed to failure anyway.

Figuring out how to go back to the office is by no means easy. How many days should people be in the office? What schedule is fair to everyone? What technology do we need in place? The logistical challenges are formidable. What most organizations are missing, however, is that before you can solve all the logistical challenges, you have to make key decisions about what kind of culture you will have moving forward.

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This is the hole in almost everyone’s strategy. They are keeping their previous culture, while planning out a whole new workplace strategy, and in an environment where the way people work has just changed drastically and permanently. We didn’t just “work from home for a while,” when the Pandemic hit. We experienced a structural shift:

  • we shifted the balance of power between employer and employee;
  • we changed the way collaboration happens;
  • we uncovered really faulty assumptions about how supervision and accountability work.

And until you make decisions about how your culture will adapt to that new fundamental reality, your strategies for returning to the workplace are going to confuse people at best, and drive them away at worst (heard of the “great resignation?”).

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Maddie and I don’t want that to happen, so we developed a quick project for your management team to work through the key culture decisions and identify the implications for your return-to-work strategy. We even can do a follow up workshop on the technology and space planning implications (we have outside experts to bring in for those).

Read more about the project here. If you want to do this right, you need to tackle these culture issues first.

(Oh, and if you want the full story on the big changes, download our ebook here.)


Photo by Fusion Medical Animation

Jamie Notter

Jamie is an author and growth strategist at PROPEL, where he helps leaders integrate culture, strategy, and execution to achieve breakthrough performance and impact. He brings twenty-five years of experience to his work designing culture-driven businesses, and has specialized along the way in areas like conflict resolution and generations. Jamie is also the co-author of three books—Humanize, When Millennials Take Over, and The Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement—and holds a Master’s in conflict resolution from George Mason and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown, where he serves as adjunct faculty.
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